Whilst sorting out some files I came across the birth plan I wrote for my second son in 2002. Even with everything I have learned in the last 13 years I would still not change a thing 🙂 – except maybe calling it birth preferences.
Phil and Maggie’s Birth Plan 2002
Our aim is to have a completely natural home water birth. I am very relaxed and confident about the birth and feel sure that we will achieve our goal.
We have hired a birthing pool and intend to use the pool for the later part of the first stage and the second stage. Ideally I would like to give birth in the pool. We have prepared a room for the birth on the ground floor and feel that this will be a comfortable and relaxed place to give birth.
I have been using self Hypnosis for several weeks and intend that this is my main form of pain control along with controlled breathing and deep relaxation.
I intend on using several homeopathic and herbal remedies during the birth, namely caulopholum and arnica and a tea made of raspberry leaf, squaw vine, peppermint and nettle plus blue cohosh tincture to aid the contractions.
I will use rose oil, lavender, geranium and neroli as aromatherapy oils for burning and massage. I wish to remain active during the first stage of labour.
We have entenox on hand and I will use this if necessary.
If I have to go into hospital I do not want to have an electronic monitor placed on my stomach and do not want a scalp foetal monitor to be used on may baby. I have no intention of using other drugs and feel I would only go into hospital in a true emergency.
I wish for Phil to be with me at all times and to play an active role in the birth. For the actual delivery I am adamant that I would like the room to be dark and as quiet as possible. We would like for Phil to actually deliver the baby and pass the baby onto my stomach. I would like the cord to stop pulsating before the cord is clamped and for Phil to cut the cord. Unless in a life or death situation I do not want my baby taken away from me at ANY time. I intend on breastfeeding as soon as the baby is ready and wish for the baby to remain naked with me for as long as possible. If I do not give birth in the water, I would like to place the baby in warm water within an hour of its birth preferably with Phil and I.
I do not want the baby to be given a Vitamin K injection and to only be given an oral dose if the birth as been particularly traumatic. I am prepared to take syntometrine for the delivery of the placenta if it is deemed medically necessary.
Anyone who has suffered with morning sickness will tell you how absolutely awful it can be. It is an odd time for women as the elation and excitement of being pregnant is often subdued by the intermittent or, often non-stop feelings of nausea, low energy, dizziness and vomiting. There isn’t a magic pill that will take it away and none of natural remedies are guaranteed to work. It is something that you know you just have to put up with in the knowledge that at some point around 12 weeks (for others it can continue longer) it will stop.
No one really understand what causes morning sickness, but it is believed to be triggered by a combination of hormonal, physical and emotional changes that take place when a woman becomes pregnant.
Some say it may be nature’s way of preventing the mother from eating foods that are not helpful to her or her baby. Many women completely go off things like tea, coffee, wine and, believe it or not, even chocolate! However in research studies, far more women went off foods that are recommended as being good for her baby such as fish, eggs or meat. This is particularly interesting as in a study comparing anthropological reports of 27 societies [i], the seven societies for which morning sickness was completely unknown rarely ate animal products, relying instead on corn, rice, tubers, and other plants.
Most websites and pregnancy resources will tell you that morning sickness is considered a normal part of pregnancy quoting that up to 80% of women (in our society) will get it. However there is considerable research, including a study that came out in Germany which has shown that psychosocial variables have a clear influence on incidents of morning sickness including levels of stress, social support and emotions relating to being pregnant[ii]. Stress in particular has been shown to increase the incidence and severity of morning sickness[iii],[iv] as an increase in cortisol (stress hormones) leads to highs and lows of blood sugar which bring on the bouts of morning sickness.
Another theory is that it may also be nature’s way of getting a mum to slow down, to take better care of herself, and to begin her journey to becoming a mother by ensuring that she begins to be more aware of the effect her actions have on her baby.
Whichever view you hold, morning sickness is something that is very common, and in most cases is considered to be a positive element of pregnancy – statistically morning sickness reduces the likelihood of miscarriage, pre-term birth, low birth weight and perinatal death.
However, if you are suffering from morning sickness you probably do not really care what the theories are or why you have it – you probably just want ideas on how to reduce or get rid of it.
There are several natural ways to help reduce morning sickness including acupuncture, acupressure, taking ginger, peppermint, eating bland foods and grazing rather than eating big meals. Another way that has helped many women, including the Duchess of Cambridge is by using hypnotherapy.
So what is hypnotherapy and how can it help with morning sickness?
Hypnotherapy (i.e. using the state of hypnosis for a therapeutic outcome) involves listening to a therapist in person or on a CD or download, who will use calming, relaxing words, imagery and often music to guide you into a relaxed state. Once in this relaxed state (when you are in fact still aware of your surroundings and could, if you wanted to open your eyes and interact) you listen to specific positive suggestions to help you re-frame or change the way you currently respond to things. All things in life have a cause and an effect, for example you hear your name so you respond, you feel hungry so you eat, you stuck in traffic so you feel stressed etc. The suggestions given when you are in this relaxed state are based on the premise that you cannot usually change the cause but you can change how you respond. Because the conscious part of your mind (the critical, analytical part of you) is resting, you become very open and accepting of these positive suggestions and they become a new way for you to deal with the difficulties you were facing before.
As already discussed, stress can play a significant part in the onset and severity of morning sickness. However, reducing stress consciously or on demand is a difficult thing to. Hypnotherapy helps you do this on several levels. Firstly the simple fact that you are taking time out (usually about 30 mins) to relax and switch off means that you are reducing the body’s levels of stress hormones, calming your thoughts and focusing on positive feelings. Secondly whilst in a deeply relaxed state you are listening to positive suggestions about releasing any tension or stress and replacing them with calmer, more positive feelings. And thirdly whilst in hypnosis you take on new ways of dealing with the stress once you are out of hypnosis and dealing with your daily life (called a post hypnotic suggestion). By being calmer, more relaxed and less stressed the symptoms of morning sickness will reduce.
The second key factor is to help you re-frame your thoughts and feelings about food and smells giving you positive suggestions to change your response such as imagining (and so having) a minty or lemony taste in your mouth which replaces the unpleasant sensations and to be attracted to foods that feel and are good for you. According to the reports on the Duchess of Cambridge ‘the hypnotherapy took away any negative thoughts connected with food from the morning sickness, and replaced them with cravings for healthy, nutritious food”. Whilst in hypnosis you also learn an easy and quick to use technique to bring about feelings of positivity, energy, and a fresh lemony taste when you going about your daily routine. This can be a really useful tool to instantly feel better at any time of night or day.
This form of Hypnotherapy is not just for the rich and famous, my “Overcome Morning Sickness” CD or Download helps pregnant women to deal with nausea and morning sickness through by listening to the cd in their own home. A survey carried out in conjunction with Pregnancy and Birth Magazine, found that 10 out of 10 mothers would recommend this CD to a friend and 9 out of 10 felt significant benefit from using it. Second time Mum Mandy said:
“After listening to your CD I stopped being sick after meals. The nausea only comes back very occasionally, and my appetite has improved almost back to normal! I wish I’d known about it for my last pregnancy, as I suffered really badly until about 18 weeks. I’ll certainly recommend the CD to my friends.”
This blog looks at how Paul’s journey took him from coping with a traumatic birth to being an integral part of an inspirational birth.
Having met Nadine a few times I knew how much a positive birth experience had meant to her. Especially after the difficulties she had with her first labour. However, as often happens, a father’s perspective of the birth can be somewhat overlooked.
I was therefore so pleased when Paul sent me this video. He gives his perspective of their first difficult birth experience during which he felt like during which they both felt very unprepared and somewhat overwhelmed. Paul especially felt like a bystander and felt unable to support Nadine in effectively.
When Nadine became pregnant again, they felt so strongly that they wanted to find a different way. Initially, like many partners, Paul was somewhat skeptical about hypnotherapy and had a misguided view of what it meant. However, he goes on to explain so clearly how his view changed once he understood what Natal Hypnotherapy was all about and how much it helped him have a proactive and important role and ultimately an inspirational birth experience.
I won’t give too much away but words like motivational, inspirational, positive, uplifting were words he used to describe the second birth experience.
You can watch his interview here
You can watch Paul and Nadine’s inspirational birth experience on Channel 4’s “One Born Every Minute” at 9pm on August 12th
When I was approached by the producers of One Born Every Minute, explaining that one of the women who was being filmed for the programme was using Natal Hypnotherapy, I was somewhat nervous as in the past we have had negative experiences in the way TV shows portray women using Natal Hypnotherapy. However, I also realised that this would be an amazing opportunity to of women that birth can be a positive, calm and empowering experience. I had never met the lady and had no idea what her background was however I knew from years of experience that Natal Hypnotherapy can help all types on women on so many different levels.
The producers put us in touch and I managed to have a few lovely conversations with her before the birth. She had had a very traumatic birth with her first baby and was adamant that she wanted things to be different this time round. She had done some research and come across the concept of hypnobirthing which she felt would be worth pursuing. However she had not been keen on some of the methods, as she felt they were too prescriptive, until she came across Natal Hypnotherapy. She only listened to the CD and read the book (cover to cover!) however the change in her feelings and attitudes towards the forthcoming birth changed beyond belief.
I then heard no more from her until 8am on a Saturday morning last year – She was still in the hospital and rang me just an hour after giving birth as she could not wait to tell me how the amazing and positive the birth was. By the end of the conversation we were both in tears! She really believed that having a positive birth experience was predominantly down to the techniques she had learnt using Natal Hypnotherapy. She was on cloud nine and could not stop telling me how wonderful it was and how amazed the midwives were. I was thrilled beyond belief for her but also relieved that her experience had been so positive.
Then started the long wait for her birth to finally be shared with millions of viewers! I have since met her a few times – once when she came to talk at a student midwives study day – it was such a pleasure and delight to see her talk about the birth with such passion and enthusiasm – and an even bigger delight to see the response from the midwives!
Then again when I filmed this lovely interview with her where she talks you through her experience.
I was contacted on twitter the other day by a lady who had listened to the Natal Hypnotherapy tracks as preparation for her birth. After the birth she posted this incredible image of the tracker report from her Microsoft Band which she put on at the beginning of her home birth.
What we can see from this is the trace of her heart beat, expended energy and duration of labour. The most striking thing is that throughout her labour her heart rate actually went down apart from a tiny increase during the birth. Her heart rate and level of energy expenditure where high in the beginning (what we term the excitement phase) when she was probably still more active and understandably super excited that she was going to have her baby very soon.
As the labour progresses she begins to slow down her activity, relaxing deeply and only experiencing an increase in heart rate during contractions. This shows so clearly that staying calm, relaxed and focused means you expend less energy and put less strain on your heart. She burned a total of 493 calories which is the equivalent of playing golf for an hour and a half – a far cry from the Google stimate of an average labouring women burning 50,000 calories!
The reason hypnotherapy works so well in labour is that
a) mums-to-be condition their bodies to relax so they can “actively” relax muscles on command for example when a contraction begins
b) they have practised deep breathing techniques which help the flow of oxygen to the uterus making it easier for the muscles to work effectively
c) they have over come any fears or worries so that they have little or no adrenaline which can cause tension in muscles.
d) They completely trust their bodies to know exactly what to do and so are not “fighting” the labour in any way.
“This is the third birth during which I have used your Natal Hypnotherapy and all my birth experiences, while all vastly different, were amazing, empowering and life-defining.
Paul had given me the Microsoft band for my birthday a week earlier and we had talked about using it during labour then. This was also related to an article I read about the lack of female input on technology development in Silicon Valley. While the Microsoft band is fully kitted out to support a round of golf- there aren’t any functions related to pregnancy, childbirth or postpartum experiences like breastfeeding for example.
So I wanted to record my labour and share it with Microsoft in the hope it would catch an eye and perhaps other people would use their bands to do the same. Obviously, my data is pointless without other data to compare it to.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if a woman, not using Natal Hypnotherapy (or similar) recorded her labour experience? I wonder if her heart rate would spike higher, or build over time (as opposed to mine). If the data would show how much ‘harder’ labour is physically if you are fearful or even the body’s response to the use of other forms of pain relief?
So, I would love to get the word out and encourage other women to record their experiences and perhaps, even to influence the Microsoft Band’s development.”
Would you consider using a band like this to monitor your physical responses during labour? I would love to know if you used anything like this and what the reading was.